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DHS announces more details on deferred action process

Screen shot from (U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services)

Homeland Security officials provided more details today on how young undocumented immigrants will be able to apply for deferred action, temporary legal status under a new Obama administration policy that's been shortened to an acronym, DACA, for "deferred action for childhood arrivals."

The guidelines were posted today, along with a brochure and an illustrated flyer with the basics: That applicants must have arrived in the U.S. before age 16, were no older than 30 as of last June 15, had resided in the United States for five continuous years since June 15, 2007, have no felony or other serious convictions or national security problems, and so forth.

There will be a processing fee of $465, although the application forms are still being developed. A limited number may be able to obtain fee waivers. Biometrics and background checks will be needed, too. From today's statement posted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:

USCIS expects to make all forms, instructions, and additional information relevant to the deferred action for childhood arrivals process available on August 15, 2012. USCIS will then immediately begin accepting requests for consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals.

  • Requestors – those in removal proceedings, those with final orders, and those who have never been in removal proceedings – will be able to affirmatively request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals with USCIS.

  • Requestors will use a form developed for this specific purpose.

  • Requestors will mail their deferred action request together with an application for an employment authorization document and all applicable fees to the USCIS lockbox.

  • All requestors must provide biometrics and undergo background checks.

  • Fee waivers cannot be requested for the application for employment authorization and biometric collection. However, fee exemptions will be available in limited circumstances.

The brochurehas more details, although not too different from what the agency initially outlined in June. The answer for those wondering if they might face deportation if denied deferred action remains pretty much the same, which has prompted some to hesitate: "If your request for consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals is denied, USCIS will apply its policy guidance governing the referral of cases to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)."The guidelines do make clear that "brief, casual, and innocent" departures from the United States during the five-year residency period should not present a problem. The agency has posted a new comprehensive list of questions and answers on its website.Since mid-June, hopeful deferred action applicants have been attending advocacy and community group workshops, consulting with attorneys and visiting consulates to gather the paperwork they will need for when the application period starts. USCIS reiterated today that no applications will be taken until August 15. The agency promised there will be more information posted on that date at